So much emphasis is put on home-court advantage in college basketball, and understandably so. The impact of a raucous crowd, rowdy students and familiar facilities makes for a tough environment for road teams.
Visitors to McKale Center are well aware of this, as the Arizona Wildcats are 600-106 there all time, including 91-4 since the start of the 2013-14 season.
Yet for Arizona, playing away from home—at least in Pac-12 play—has been pretty successful as well. And during the Sean Miller era the Wildcats have been downright dominant on the road in the conference, something they may need to be once again in order to ensure an NCAA tournament berth.
The “road” to that goal begins Wednesday when Arizona (11-4, 2-0) visits the Stanford Cardinal (7-7, 0-2). The Wildcats have won eight straight games at Maples Pavilion, their last loss coming in the season before Miller arrived.
Since Miller took over in 2009-10, Arizona has gone 50-31 in Pac-12 road games. That accounts for more than 15 percent of the 327 road wins posted in league play during that span if you include wins by Utah (at Arizona State) and Oregon State (at Oregon) during the opening weekend of the 2018-19 Pac-12 schedule.
Only one other team—Oregon, at 42-39—is above .500 on the road since 2009-10.
And it’s not like Arizona’s Pac-12 road record under Miller is the product of one or two really good season efforts. In his tenure the Wildcats have finished with a winning league road mark seven of nine times, going 4-5 in 2015-16 and 2009-10.
The other 11 Pac-12 teams have combined for 19 winning season road records, with Oregon having the second-most at five. ASU, for those scoring at home, is 21-60 on the road in Pac-12 play since 2009-10, and the Sun Devils’ only winning league road mark came in that first year.
Arizona was 6-3 on the road in the Pac-12 last year, leading to a 14-4 overall mark and a regular-season conference title. The year before the Wildcats’ 16-2 record was buoyed by an 8-1 road performance.
More often than not, a strong conference road record is indicative of an NCAA tourney team. Of the 26 above-.500 league road marks since 2009-10, 18 were posted by Pac-12 teams that made the NCAA field, including all nine times a team has gone 6-3 or better away from home.
Four of those nine instances were by Arizona, all since 2013-14. The Wildcats’ 31 league road wins in the past five-plus seasons are seven more than any other Pac-12 team.
The Bay Area, the first destination, has been a particularly successful one for Arizona under Miller. It is 13-3 at Stanford and Cal, with all three losses coming in Berkeley but none since 2016, and only once in the Miller era (2010) have the Wildcats dropped the first leg of the Bay trip.
As good as they’ve been in the Bay, though, a loss this weekend wouldn’t be surprising. Though Arizona is 12-8 collectively on its first league road trips—including a pair of three-game swings, most recently in 2015-16—it has only twice opened with a road sweep.
The last such occurrence was in 2016-17, at the Bay schools, while last year Arizona lost the back end of the Rocky Mountain trip at Colorado after winning at Utah two days earlier.